Last week’s win over Louisville has gone a long way toward
moving the Bearcats off the NCAA Tournament bubble and into the 10-seed area of
most projections. A win at South Florida last Sunday would have all-but-secured
the invitation, but the dudes lost by a point on the road, 46-45.
[UPDATE: The Bearcats whooped on Marquette, 72-61; here's the AP recap: Cincinnati halts No. 7 Marquette to pad resume.]
Tonight UC will welcome No. 7 Marquette to Fifth Third Arena under a bunch of weird circumstances: Marquette kicked the crap out of the Bearcats 95-78 on Feb. 11, and it’s Senior Night for a couple of UC players who aren’t used to being trampled so badly (at least not in recent years).
Here’s what Yancy and Dion told The Enquirer’s Bill Koch yesterday.
“You know that it’s Senior Night and we feel it,” Gates said, “but I think we’ll feel it more when we get on the court tomorrow. Right now, our focus is so much on we need this win that we really don’t have time to sit back and think, ‘Oh, tomorrow’s Senior Night.’ ”
“I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow,” Dixon said. “We’re just trying to focus on getting this win. That’s the main thing.”
After tonight, the Bearcats have one remaining regular-season game, at Villanova on Saturday. Assuming they can’t handle the rematch with Marquette, they’ll really need to beat Villanova to avoid entering the Big East tournament on a three-game losing streak. If they were to drop their first tournament game after that, they’d be sitting at 20-12 on Selection Sunday with a real ugly RPI.
One win out of UC’s remaining regular-season schedule or in the Big East tournament should be enough to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. But a win over South Florida last Sunday probably would have assured it as well.
It is under such circumstances that two of Mick Cronin’s most influential recruits take the court tonight for their final home game. Gates is a hometown player who chose UC over Ohio State, West Virginia and Xavier, among others, and has traveled a fairly up-and-down road during his four years. Gates surely wants to end his senior season on a high note after the Crosstown Shootout fiasco, which threatens to overshadow his years of hard work and importance to Mick Cronin’s rebuilding effort at UC. Gates currently ranks 17th on UC’s career scoring list and is the only Bearcat to ever lead his team in rebounding four straight seasons.
Dixon came to UC from a Chicago public school where he used to jam on a bunch of high schoolers. He’s contributed every year, as his 1,183 career points show — good for 27th all-time at UC. Dixon’s versatility has been a huge help to Cronin, who has used Dion as a shooting guard and point guard during various parts of his career. And Dion tries to thump it on people even though he’s just a little too small to do it all the time. We still really appreciate that.
After everything this year’s team — and these two seniors, specifically — has been through, tonight is surely going to be an energetic and emotional night down at The Shoe. Hopefully the ’Cats can hang with Marquette — securing an NCAA Tournament-securing win on Senior Night would be a beautiful way for the careers of these two players to end.
Fantasy football can make you feel like George W. Bush did when that guy threw shoes at his face. I think the only way to deal with not winning any money again this year is to blame the players on my team, the firearms they misused and my own draft day shortcomings.
John Fox is a classy guy. His team wins the World Series and all he does is wear a Phillies jersey to work and go about his business. If the Reds won the championship and I lived in Philly, I'd be getting in everyone's face and yelling "Whoot! Whoot! Whoot!"
Do you like watching the home team win? Have the Bengals driven you to drink? Are the Reds making you fill your Prozac prescription early?
Get to a Cincinnati Rollergirls match, one of the only winning sports teams in the 'Nati. In fact, I heard that the Bearcats were given an inspirational speech by the Rollergirls before their season started this year.
You know what’s funny? If you put UC’s skill players behind the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line, I guarantee they would score more than 7 points against the Bengals. That might not mean much about how crappy Cleveland is, but it means a lot that a collegiate defense will have to try to stop the Bearcats’ offensive collection of future pros this coming weekend.
With UC’s win over Illinois last Friday — which, at 49-36, was actually not very close at all — the Bearcats are set up for a season finale against Pitt for the Big East Championship. It kind of sucks that Pitt has already lost two games (one in the conference) and they have nearly as much to play for as UC, but whatever. Pitt’s current 5-1 Big East record will hold up if it beats UC, since the Bearcats’ lone loss would be the tiebreaker. Still, Pitt’s 19-16 loss to West Virginia last Saturday proves that it's a very beatable team.
So, it totally sucks that UC point guard Cashmere Wright tore his ACL the other day. It really sucks. It sucks really bad.
But instead of cursing God or the NCAA or the fragile ligament that connects from a posterio-lateral part of the femur to an anterio-medial part of the tibia, we should rise up and help one of contemporary society's major problems — a lack of blood.
Next week is UC Bearcats Week at the Hoxworth Blood Center, which means that anyone who donates some of theirs will be entered into a raffle for a pair of season tickets to for UC basketball this year. And even though that super fast freshman won't be out there, we promise that other young dudes will be jamming on some people's heads, especially early in the year.
Here are the details: Go to a Hoxworth mobile unit or neighborhood center between Oct. 27 and Nov. 1. You have to be at least 17 years old, basically healthy, at least 110 pounds and you should probably eat some food before you go.
You can also call 451-0910 or (800) 830-1091 to schedule an appointment at a neighborhood donor center. To locate a community blood drive or if you are a registered donor and want to schedule online, go to www.hoxworth.org and click "Donate Now."
Give Hoxworth some of your blood. Do it for the community. Do it for basketball tickets. Either way.
Let's not point out the many things I haven't been right about so far in 2009. Instead, let's focus on my Spring Training prediction that Laynce Nix, if healthy and in the lineup, would hit 25 home runs. It looks pretty feasible. The shot he hit to dead center in Arizona last night was certainly not a cheapie.
It's been a long, strange journey for the 2011 Cincinnati Reds. The team's first 92 games have seen injuries, lengthy slumps, poor starting pitching and more close losses than a team with such a good bullpen should statistically endure. Still, with 70 regular-season games remaining, the Reds sit 2 games below .500 and just 4 out of the division lead, which puts the organization's executives in a tough spot.
A few weeks before the spring signing period began, Mick Cronin hinted on a local radio station that there would be some surprises in store for Bearcat fans come April 15. Well, April 15 has come and gone, and with the signing period ending next week (May 20) it’s nearly time to panic.
One of Cronin’s prized recruits last year was 7-foot-3 John Riek, who never got on the court for the Bearcats. Riek spent the year rehabbing his knee, and due to some weird NCAA paperwork/eligibility issues found himself uncommitted to UC this spring. He surprisingly signed with
the University of Mississippi Mississippi State this month, leaving UC without the giant dude it was expecting to put up front with sophomore Yancy Gates.